Friday, December 18, 2009

Robert Rapier Stands Up for Bio-Energy

Robert Rapier is an engineer who has often expressed skepticism about various biofuels approaches and particular biofuels companies. But the logic in favour of biomass is very difficult to dispute. I am posting a brief excerpt, but you need to read Robert's entire article to get a feeling for how frustrated Robert is with the biomass-bashers. (almost as frustrated as Al Fin) is true that wood gasification plants can have lots of particulate emissions, that is not an inherent quality. You can put the same pollution controls on them that you can on coal plants. So once again a bad starting assumption leads to a sweeping, but false conclusion.

In summary, this was a very one-sided view that presented the worst extremes as more or less the status quo for biomass utilization. It is true that you can do things a right way or a wrong way. Water is healthy and I need it to live, but if I drink too much it can kill me. Taking a page from this article, I suppose I should avoid water from now on, as it has the potential to kill me.

For those quoted in the article, I hope they don't freeze to death in the dark as the biomass they are so opposed to rots and releases its CO2 anyway. As I tell people sometimes, if you are opposed to everything, then prepare to be happy with the status quo. _RSquared
Rapier is an engineer who is focused on the matter at hand -- hot to make things work efficiently. He is not a generalist and does not have a truly global view, except in the narrow areas that he specialises in. But he is honest in expressing his impressions as he sees them.

Too many intellectuals without technical training (such as the ones that Robert bashes above) have latched onto an initial impression that "biofuels are bad" and have decided that bioenergy cannot help alleviate energy shortages. Time will prove them wrong, but in the meantime, they are slowing down society's abililty to flexibly face energy supply fluctuations.



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